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Sovereign Screens

Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast

Kristin L. Dowell

Publication Year: 2013

While Indigenous media have gained increasing prominence around the world, the vibrant Aboriginal media world on the Canadian West Coast has received little scholarly attention. As the first ethnography of the Aboriginal media community in Vancouver, Sovereign Screens reveals the various social forces shaping Aboriginal media production including community media organizations and avant-garde art centers, as well as the national spaces of cultural policy and media institutions.

Kristin L. Dowell uses the concept of visual sovereignty to examine the practices, forms, and meanings through which Aboriginal filmmakers tell their individual stories and those of their Aboriginal nations and the intertribal urban communities in which they work. She explores the ongoing debates within the community about what constitutes Aboriginal media, how this work intervenes in the national Canadian mediascape, and how filmmakers use technology in a wide range of genres—including experimental media—to recuperate cultural traditions and reimagine Aboriginal kinship and sociality.  Analyzing the interactive relations between this social community and the media forms it produces, Sovereign Screens offers new insights into the on-screen and off-screen impacts of Aboriginal media. 

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7


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pp. 8-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xviii

...One bright spring morning, I sit with Cleo Reece (Cree), filmmaker, activist, mother, grandmother, and Indigenous Media Arts Group (IMAG) founding member, sharing coffee at the bakery around the corner from the imag office. Our conversation meanders from talking about her filmmaking career to her long involvement in Aboriginal1 activism to the latest update on her grandchildren...

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pp. xix-xxvi

...This book has been many years in the making and represents the culmination of a long journey to get here. There are many people to thank. I extend my deepest gratitude to all the filmmakers with whom I worked in Vancouver. It is a tremendous honor for me to be able to work within Vancouver’s Aboriginal media world. I thank you all for your encouragement...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

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pp. 1-20

...What does Aboriginal sovereignty look like on- and off-screen? This question has guided my decade-long research on Aboriginal media in Canada and is a significant question among Aboriginal filmmakers who define Aboriginal media practice through their work. Many scholars recognize the political dimensions of Aboriginal sovereignty through attention to land claims, treaty rights, tribal governments, and economic development...

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1. The Indigenous Media Arts Group

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pp. 21-49

...On a crisp, sunny October afternoon the Indigenous Media Arts Group (imag) office bustles with activity. Cleo Reece, imag director, talks on the phone with a funding agency about a grant, her daughter Honey stops by with her two children, Ohkuu and Musky, Leonard edits a student video about his drum group, and Mary drops in to make copies of her video, a clip of which will be aired...

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2. Canadian Cultural Policy and Aboriginal Media

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pp. 50-75

...It’s 2:30 in the morning, and Odessa and I have just returned from the closing gala of the 2004 imagenation Film Festival. We sit in the rental van on a darkened street in front of her apartment eating ice cream and talking about the festival. We chat about audience attendance, ticket sales, our thoughts about specific films, and the excitement of the closing party with its featured guest...

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3. Aboriginal Diversity On-Screen

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pp. 76-105

...I arrive in Vancouver to begin my fieldwork, and the first thing I do is turn on the tv to channel 71, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (aptn). The first image that greets me is an aptn promotional spot in which a sophisticated, professionally dressed Aboriginal woman gazes into the camera declaring, “My grandfather is a traditional man with contemporary ideas. He’s filled with the knowledge of stories that he has heard from the time that he...

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4. Building Community Off-Screen

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pp. 106-133

...I sit on the couch in my friend Leena’s apartment one spring evening talking about her work as a media artist, her involvement with imag, and her journey to Vancouver. Leena is a dynamic and energetic media artist and dancer who is keen to ensure that Aboriginal media is reflective of the diversity of Aboriginal voices and experiences. We talk about her childhood growing up as a mixed-blood Aboriginal...

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5. Cultural Protocol in Aboriginal Media

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pp. 134-153

...at the Pacific Cinematheque. After helping all week with publicity for the screening, promoting the film across the city by distributing flyers and posters, I sit amid the standing-room-only crowd, eagerly awaiting the screening. Loretta begins by discussing her production process and how she initially approached the Kainai...

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6. Visual Sovereignty in Aboriginal Experimental Media

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pp. 154-172

...mountaintop overlooking the small community of the Stone Reserve, one of six villages that are members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation. There is an excited energy running through the production crew of approximately forty people, some of whom traveled a nine-hour road trip from Vancouver to participate in this shoot, and others for whom the Stone Reserve is home. The knowledge and expertise...

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pp. 173-186

...It is a blistering hot Oklahoma summer evening, and I am on my way to see a movie when I check Facebook on my iPhone. To my delighted surprise I see the following post in my newsfeed: “Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival Kickstarter Campaign!! June 21, 2011 W2 Community Center...


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pp. 187-200


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pp. 201-236


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pp. 237-252


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pp. 253-267

E-ISBN-13: 9780803248946
E-ISBN-10: 0803248946
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803245389

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013